Peoples Guide to Anacortes


The People's Guide to Anacortes (originally named Anacortes for CheapOs) has been a project that I've been thinking about for quite some time now. The idea sprung from this post and the wonderful comments that it spawned. The more I thought about it, the more I wished this kind of thing existed for the places I travel to; a simple guide to the free, non-commercial activities a location has to offer. Anyone that has been to Anacortes knows that free activities abound here (hiking, swimming, parks, beaches, etc.)

My intended audience is essentially the younger, more adventurous, less affluent crowd (think heckers (my* oh so clever name for the folks that descend on Anacortes for the What The Heck Fest)), but there are activities for everyone, simply categorized with some fancy technology for syncing up the map with the description. Also available is a printable PDF.

I assume once some of my fellow Anacortians (Anacortisian?) have a look over the list, there will be suggestions for what I missed, etc. and I welcome that. Please pass those along via the comments or the contact page. I'll try to keep the list updated. Another thing you, dear readers, can do to help is to encourage people to check it out. If you have a friend that is going to be visiting Anacortes or the San Juan Islands, send them a link. Knowing that I've opened people's eyes to some of what Anacortes has to offer is the best form of payment I could get for a project like this*.
Wednesday July 18 2007File under: Anacortes, travel

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Angels Rest on the Columbia

Not too long ago, I got to experience the northern shore of the Columbia River courtesy of our friend Scoot Scoot, remember? Well, just this past weekend, I got a taste of the Oregon side of things. I think it is safe to say that the Columbia River from either vantage point is a worthy spectacle.

Although the weather was hot and humid beyond my comfort level, I couldn't pass up the chance to get out of the city for a hike with friends. When we reached the top, after significant elevation gain*, I could really see where it got its name from. If I were an angel, I think I would stop here and have a nice picnic. Besides the lovely view, the welcome breeze, the cheese and crackers*, I found this inspiration gem hidden off the trail a ways. After a group shot and more view admiring, we headed back to the city for a BBQ.

Good time abound here in Portland, I've decided.
Tuesday July 17 2007File under: travel, pics

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Sand in the City

While out meandering around the city the other day, I am came across a neat little exhibit in Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown. While a far cry from the sand castles of my youth, these sand sculptures were pretty neat. I even caught one in the process of being finished. All I know is that back in my days of sand sculpting, trowels, squirt bottles, and wooden frames were not part of the standard issue equipment.

Anyhoo, check out these dandy little pictures: Overview of the festivities (did I mention there was music and food going down as well?); Calvin and Hobbes lookalikes; reading brings the world alive unless there is a dragon under your bed unless, of course, he is a smiley dragon; and a Burgerville Display.

To check out the official Sand in the City site, click here.
Monday July 16 2007File under: pics, travel

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Now THAT is a Farmers Market

I don't have anything against the Anacortes Farmers Market; the bounty of the Skagit Valley, and access to it, is important to me; it is neat to see people behind the counter that I recognize; and Samish Bay cheese will always hold a special place in my heart. But compared to the Portland Farmers Market at PSU, it leaves much to be desired.

Yesterday, I journeyed downtown via my favorite form of public transportation (non-bus) to bask in all the local foods that NW Oregon has to provide. What did I see? Berries, cherries, buffalo meat, goat cheese, mushrooms, honey, walnuts, veggies, oysters, flowers, bread, and so much more. And there wasn't just one stand for each, but lots to choose from. The fruit stands alone were easily larger than the whole of the Anacortes Farmers Market. Although I ended up only coming away with cherries, a focaccia bread, and some chipotle cheddar, I could have easily spend about $200 dollars and had myself quite the little feast.

Speak of feasts, not only was there fresh local produce etc., but there were food stands to beat the band: pizza by the slice, organic breakfast burritos, and plenty more that I would have loved to sampled. I decided on a spicy sausage with grilled onions and green peppers. I sat and enjoyed my lunch while listening to the [local, (I assume)] band rocking out on stage. Yep, the Portland Farmers Market is a good way to spend a day.
Sunday July 15 2007File under: food, travel

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PDX

(For all you uninitiated, "PDX" is what the cool kids call Portland, OR. Or at least that's what I am told. I sure hope another naming discussion stems from this one*. I'll just stick with it purely for convenience. PDX is easier to type than Portland*.)

Portland, Oregon is a city that is held in high regards by many Northwesterners. It isn't too large to be overwhelming. It is large enough to have all the culture you could hope for. And it is a well planned city with public transportation, city parks, and more. I've passed through here a couple of times before, but never really gotten a chance to really immerse myself in all that is PDX.

Well, in the continuing vein of the Year of Wren, things just seem to go my way. I've landed a 10 day housesitting gig in a gorgeous home in a lovely part of the city. Within being here only a couple of hours, I get treated to dinner with old friends at the 2007 Restaurant of the Year, Pok Pok*. Now, as a cool breeze flushes the house of the warmth built up through the day, thunder and lightening echo in the background really adding to the sense of adventure I'm anticipating for this lovely visit.

So any BdW readers in the area, let's get together! Let's do a movie in one of those famous McMenamin's pub/cinemas. Shall we check out the Farmers' Market? You must know a good swimming hole. Show me your favorite park*. Or if you were here but aren't now, drop a suggestion for what I simply mustn't miss.

Three cheers for a PDX adventure!
Thursday July 12 2007File under: travel, food

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Lake Swimming

The talk of the town these last few days is all about how hot it is. No, it's not 117� like some places, but mid-eighties is still pretty hot for us wussy Northwesterners. And what is there to do here in Anacortes when the going gets hot? WHISTLE LAKE!!!!

We made it to the parking lot before the throngs of cooler-toting, party dudes descended, and made a bee-line for the relative seclusion of the skinny dipping spot (although no skinny dipping occurred.) The water was cold, but it was a refreshing cold. A quick swim across the lake and back was enough to remind me it has been too long since I have been swimming, as my arms were barely keeping me afloat*.

Yes it's hot, but if it wasn't for the heat, a dip in Whistle wouldn't feel nearly as good as it does, and for that reason, I'm not going to complain. (Well, okay maybe a little.)
Wednesday July 11 2007File under: Anacortes, misc

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A Day in the Couv

(I think popular consensus is that nobody calls Vancouver "the 'Couv". That's quite a pity, if you ask me. Anyhoo, it is a trend I'm looking to start, so I expect to hear you all saying it soon.)

Vancouver is a dang cool city. I know, because I've been (although not nearly as often as I should've). I've been reading much about it over the last year or so on Amanda's blog, so I got quite excited when I heard we were planning a family excursion up that way to visit an old* family friend.

To make a long story short*, the trip was awesome. We had a great visit with great friends in a great city. High points included an excellent "Malaysian Thai Fusion" meal, gorgeous weather for walking along the beach at English Bay (side note: I found it highly amusing how many folks were out sunbathing or swimming even though the temperature was no more than 74* with a not-so-warm breeze blowing off the water), the Frazier River countryside, and the little difference (we saw 2 smart cars, one of which was a convertible!). Low points included an unpleasantly long wait at the border crossing and our lunch park being closed for construction. (Where were you on that one, google maps?)

For further, less tangible musings, click here.
Monday July 9 2007File under: travel

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Quiz Night!

A wise man once said, "If you put your vibe out into the universe, the universe will respond", or something along those lines*. Well, I've been putting out the trivia vibe into the universe recently (reading Ken Jennings's Braniac, watching Jeopardy as often as possible, and composing a little trivia challenge of my own (to be released at the next game night)). The universe did its job and responded brilliantly.

The Back Porch Cafe (the cute little cafe/restaurant/food-buying-for-eating* place connected to The Business) held its first monthly (or so they say) Quiz Night. There were 5 teams of four members each. Play consisted of 2 30-minute rounds in written format. Topics included 80s metal*, geography, food additives, the heart, Antarctica, and pictures of dudes (as seen here). While the style of these questions didn't quite suit me, I had a great time nonetheless.

After a rout in the first round putting us in the lead by 5.5 points, we got to feeling pretty cocky. Yep, we aced geography and food additives. Round 2, however, we didn't do so hot, getting only 1.5 points on the pictures of dudes category*. In the end, we came in second by a lousy half a point. Oh well, there is always next month. I, for one, will definitely be there.
Friday July 6 2007File under: Anacortes, games

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Small Town Parades

Small town parades are one of the great joys of living in Anacortes. Sure, it is mostly classic cars, candy, kids on bikes, and shameless commercialism (although this guy spiced it up, making me feel better about bowing out of my two year tradition). But chances are, you know somebody in at least one of the troupes which always makes it fun. Plus, walking down the streets, you are bound to run into people you haven't seen in a while, and it is always good to catch up.

One of the bummers that gets me every year is the on-it's-way-to-the-trash-heap crap that Shell Oil and others insist on throwing to the masses. Stop by Kiwanis the week after the parade, and I bet you'll find hundreds of those unthrowable frisbees stuck in purgatory on the shelves. And those are the ones that didn't end up the garbage, like I'm sure the majority of them did. Also, do we really need to pretend we are New Orleans and do the beads thing? The plastic crap is one aspect of the parade I could do without.

On the up side, however, there was a pleasant counterpoint, a new addition to this year's parade. A troupe advocating carbon reduction marched along advocating living in harmony with nature, using bikes and public transportation, and more*. Star of their group was the much talked about electric car.

Yep, living in a small town ain't so bad at all. Top it all off with a top notch fireworks display this evening, and I'll pick Anacortes's Fourth of July any day.
Wednesday July 4 2007File under: Anacortes, pics

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Baby Time

It seems the talk amongst people my age these days is babies. Everyone is either having them, thinking about having them, reading blogs about them, or fawning over someone else's. Put me in the latter category.

This past week, I've had the opportunity of chilling with Ms. Clara (of Emily and Clara fame) while she and her mom were out visiting from Las Vegas. It is sometimes hard to appreciate the little observations and joys shared on other baby blogs like IHJ and SMaL by those of us that are so far removed from the baby world. Passing time with a young 'un this past week enhanced that appreciation for those little things* you are always hearing people talk about.

Anyway, it was an awesome visit what with the beach, garden, frisbee, goobering, walking, and whatnot.

(First item on the agenda after a week of baby time: a three hour nap. Good times.)
Sunday July 1 2007File under: Anacortes, pics

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